I was wondering if someone could give me some pointers on night landscape photography. What settings are best and how do I focus at night? Do you just set the focus for infinity and hope for best?
Be careful of blindly focusing on infinity by turning the focus ring all the way to the stop. Some lenses will focus beyond infinity, presumably to keep from banging against the stop when auto-focusing on infinity. DOF may save you in most cases, but it's best to set the lens to the infinity mark, if there is one. Some smart phones hava a built-in flashlight, which can be just the thing in such sithations!
Put your lens on M if it won't focus on its own, which it probably will. Mine do, but you can see through the view finder and tell if its in focus. Not a big deal.
The other part of your question is "bracket". Learn how to bracket. Take several to many exposures.
Can you tell me with exactly what you want to photograph at night? If it is a cityscape you may be able to get by with just setting it to infinity.
Which body do you have. The 1 series have interchangable screens and one is for manual focusing.
As much info as you can will help.
This is a slow process and requires patient work.
It is usually a different exposure for the "landscape" than for the sky. Often (but not always) numerous exposures will be used for the "sky" part of the image.
The "landscape" involves a high f-stop (like a daytime landscape) but with a tripod and a very long exposure (you will need a SOLID tripod and a remote shutter release.) That's the "easy" part.
The stars are the harder part because they are constatntly moving (more accurately, the ground you are standing on is moving). That means the f-stop needs to be wide-open to gather as much light in as short a time as possible. But one nice benefit of the stars is that if one is in focus... they're all in sharp focus. So no worries about depth of field. But the focus at which the stars are tack-sharp will render the landscape out of focus. Hence... you need more than one image.
There is a completely different technique depending on whether or not you want "star trails".
If you do NOT want star-trails, then you divide the focal length of your lens into 400 and that's the number of seconds you can go before the stars no longer appear as "round" points. e.g. at 20mm it would be 400 ÷ 20 = 20... so 20 seconds is the longest you would want to leave the shutter open (you can use 600 as the base if you have a full-frame camera... btw, some images were reduce that base number a bit just to be extra sure that they get tack-sharp stars.)
Center on a relatively bright star. Switch on "live view", zoom to "10x" and VERY carefully manually focus your lens as good as you can manage. With that done... take a test exposure. Pull up that test exposure and evaluate whether or not you actually nailed the focus. You will likely need to take a few of these test exposures before you are satisified. If you skip this part, you may think you're doing well (based on the very tiny size the camera's LCD screen) and then be very disappointed when you get the images into your computer.
It's also possible to use a "tracking" mount - but that's expensive (about $400 to $1000 for a tracking mount depending on quality.)
If you DO want star trails, then the camera can remain on a stationary tripod, set the camera to continuous shooting, but dial the shutter speed to 30 seconds. Make SURE you switch OFF the "long exposure noise reduction" feature in the camera. Press-and-lock the shutter button on the remote "wired" shutter release (like the Canon RS-60E3 http://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/product-accessories/eos-digital-slr-camera-accessories/eos... ) and this will cause the camera to shoot 30 second image after 30 second image and you can let the camera go like this for an hour (or more). Go enjoy coffee while you wait.
All those frames then need to be combined (using something like StarStaX).
The "sky" part of the image then needs to be combined with the "land" part of the image... and that takes a bit of Photoshop work with masking (there are YouTube videos that walk through this.)
The images typically do need a lot of processing to tease out the details.
Here is what I have been shooting. I have a 70D. Yes there are some star trails but it is not very obvious unless I enlarge it significantly. Thanks for the advice. I think bracketing is always a good plan. It is so much easier to do now with digital.
This is a nice shot. Are you sure you need advice? Looks pretty good to me. You don't have star trails, BTW.
The key word here is bracket. You must already have a tripod? So a basic setup might be f8 at 1 second, ISO 100 and bracket it from there. Focus the lens to infinity with it set on MF. You don't need a release but they are nice to have.
And last but very necessary is Photoshop or some other suitable post editor.
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